Posts tagged with "Zoning":

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Bushwick residents push for grassroots rezoning

Residents of Bushwick, Brooklyn are taking planning into their own hands to preserve their neighborhood's character and forestall gentrification. Residents, neighborhood organizations, and members of Brooklyn Community Board 4 hosted a land use meeting this week to discuss the Bushwick Community Plan, a grassroots rezoning agenda to bring more affordable housing to the neighborhood's main thoroughfares, prevent tall towers at mid-block, and create a historic district along Bushwick Avenue, among other objectives. Around 200 residents showed up to the meeting, the culmination of work that began four years ago in response to the Rheingold Brewery rezoning. "I live in Bushwick, I don't know who I displaced out of my apartment," resident Sean Thomas told DNAinfo. Thomas has called the neighborhood home for two years, and he came to learn about his role in gentrification. The next meetings, in April and May, will focus on transit and open space planning, and economic development, respectively. Stakeholders will then draft a proposal for consideration by the city later this year. "It's crucial for this plan to be successful," said local activist Edwin Delgado. "If we leave things the way they are it's just going to be a continuation of what's going on... It's sad." More information on the Bushwick Community Plan and upcoming meetings can be found here. Despite residents' enthusiasm for community planning, New York has an uneven record of actually implementing these grassroots rezoning proposals. In 2001, the city accepted Greenpoint and Williamsburg residents' rezoning proposal—only to enact zoning in 2005 that contradicted the community's wishes. The city's plan encouraged tall towers on the waterfront, which caused property values to rise and engendered the displacement of mostly low-income residents of color. More recently, Mayor Bill de Blasio has made neighborhood-scale rezoning a priority, with plans to rezone Jerome Avenue, the Bronx; East Harlem, Manhattan; and East New York, Brooklyn (plus a now-tabled rezone of West Flushing, Queens).
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NYC to rezone Jerome Avenue, signaling big changes for the Bronx

After scoring a win for his affordable housing policy with rezoning of East New York, Mayor de Blasio is setting his sights on the Bronx's Jerome Avenue. The Department of City Planning (DCP) released preliminary documents that outline plans to rezone a 73-block area of the southwest Bronx. The Special Jerome Avenue District is centered on its namesake street, the area's bustling commercial spine that teems with mom-and-pop auto body shops beneath the steel canopy of the 4 train. The rezoning would allow for large mixed-use residential buildings on the avenue, which is now zoned C8-3, M1-2, C4- 4, R7-1, R8 C-83, commercial designations that includes hotels, office space, and industrial uses like warehouses and auto shops. The entire area would be rezoned R7, R8, R9 (high-density residential); C4-4D (a medium-density commercial district with an R8A equivalent that can have 7.2 FAR in areas zoned for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH); and topped off with C2-4 commercial overlays. The rezoning would indeed apply MIH, part of the mayor's plan to guarantee affordable housing as a condition of market-rate residential development, to almost all of the new district. Near the district's southern boundary, around McClellan Avenue, towers could rise up to 145 feet, YIMBY reports. At Tremont and Burnside avenues, around the northern end of the district, new buildings could be up to 120 feet tall; near West 170th street and all along Jerome, buildings could be 80 to 100 feet in height. The height increases are tied to setbacks that should allow light and air onto Jerome, which can grow forebodingly dark at night because of the elevated train. (Perhaps the city will crib from the Design Trust for Public Space's Under the Elevated, a project to revitalize 700 miles of public space that lies beneath elevated infrastructure.) The rezoning also includes promises to enhance parks and public spaces in the neighborhoods. In all, the DCP estimates that the rezoning will allow 72,273 square feet of community space, 35,575 square feet of commercial or retail space, and 3,250 new apartments. When the rezoning was proposed back in March 2015, residents worried it would be the doomsday toll for the auto shops, which offer skilled, good-paying jobs to a largely Latino workforce. The community's concerns are justified: The DCP estimates that 47,795 square feet of industrial space and 98,002 square feet of shop space will be eliminated. As a result, over 100 jobs will be lost. New residents would be more affluent than current ones, as measured by their expected average incomes. The city promises to do another study to analyze the impending displacement of auto shops, although there's no word on whether there will be an analogous study on the possibility of residential displacement. There's plenty of time to deliberate, protest, and offer feedback on the Special Jerome Avenue District plan, though. It must pass through the lengthy public approvals process, which includes meetings with community boards, the borough president's office, the City Planning Commission, and finally the City Council. The first public meeting, where DCP officials will be on hand to answer questions from the public, is scheduled for September 29 at the (Stanford White–designed) Gould Memorial Library Auditorium at Bronx Community College.
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NYC takes first step towards highly anticipated rezoning of Midtown East

The Department of City Planning (DCP) published plans to allow taller skyscrapers in Midtown East, the first step in the rezoning process for the Manhattan neighborhood. The Greater East Midtown Rezoning proposal seeks to raise the density ceiling for new construction by 30 percent for areas around Grand Central Terminal, bolstering the as-of-right density allowance for a 78-block area between 57th and 39th Streets and Madison and Third Avenues. A rezoning of the area was shot down in 2013 over concerns regarding the proposal's timeline and lack of adequate transportation infrastructure to support an influx of new workers. Under the new plan, greater density would be allowed near subway stations in the district's northern end and along Park Avenue, with smaller density allowances for buildings farther from subways. Crucially, owners of landmarked buildings would be permitted to sell air rights district-wide, not just to adjacent buildings. Although Midtown East is still a premier business district, the DCP says one impetus for the rezoning is that older buildings that populate the district may not offer desirable Class A office space in the long-term (300 of the area's 475 buildings are more than 50 years old). The Second Avenue Subway, which, if it's ever finished, will run on Midtown's eastern edge, may fail to deliver its ROI for the area if more density is not added quickly, DCP claims. The city projects that the rezoning could result in the construction of 16 new towers in the coming years, which would add 6.6 million square feet of office space. Right now, the district contains 70 million square feet of office space, Crain's reports. A public meeting to review the documents is scheduled for September 22.
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In a sharp blow to Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, city council votes “no” on Inwood rezoning

In a sharp rebuke of Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, the city council voted down a zoning change that would have allowed a 15-story development on a prime corner in the northern Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood.

The council’s August 16 vote followed a decision earlier in the day from the Committee on Land Use, which voted against a proposed rezoning brought forth by Washington Square Partners, the developer of Sherman Plaza, a mixed-use structure designed by New York–based Kenneth Park Architects at 4650 Broadway.

Sherman Plaza was slated to be the first individual development zoned for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), a key provision of the mayor’s plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade. The development would have offered 20 percent of the units at 40 percent of the area median income (AMI) or 30 percent of units at 80 percent of the AMI, which in 2015 was $86,300 for a family of four. Residents believed that the development’s affordability was not deep enough for the neighborhood.

The community is now mostly zoned R7-2, a moderate density designation that encourages five- to eight-story structures with generous street setbacks. The proposed change would have established a higher density R8X and R9A district plus a C2-4 district within that R8X-R9A district at the corner of Broadway and Sherman Avenue.The City Planning Commission (CPC) approved a proposed rezoning of that site that would set a height limit of 175 feet.

Residents praise the architectural character of Inwood’s art deco apartment buildings. The neighborhood’s features, though, are conditioned by height factor zoning: The FAR is tied to the height of the building, so tower-in-the-park–style buildings have larger setbacks and a higher FAR, while shorter buildings earn a lower FAR and sit closer to the curb.

The project caught heat in the lead-up to the August meeting from residents and civic groups concerned about its impact on the neighborhood. Sherman Plaza was originally conceived as a 23-story, 375,000-square-foot development with 350 units and ground floor retail. In May, Community Board 12 quietly okayed the plans without alerting residents. The Municipal Art Society testified against the development at a City Planning Commission meeting that same month, citing its high affordability thresholds and out-of-context aesthetics. Neighbors were worried that, because of the sloping topography, Sherman Plaza would plunge adjacent Fort Tryon Park into shadow.

Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez represents the neighborhood, and didn’t take a public position on Sherman Plaza until a groundswell of community opposition forced him to come out forcefully against the development the day before the city council meeting. His office released a statement that acknowledged a lack of affordable housing in the district and outlined his position on new development: “[Developments] must be 50 percent affordable, have ample space for community cultural and nonprofit organizations and be supportive of our small businesses, and with key assurances in place that it will go forward as posed [sic].”

At the committee meeting, Rodriguez explained his position before voting down the proposed rezoning: “I was listening to the community for months. It’s important to preserve the landscape of the community.” He added that under Mayor Bloomberg, only 250 units of affordable housing were added to the neighborhood, and that many renters, his household included, receive preferential rents that could increase dramatically if Inwood’s housing market heats up.

Council members from the Committee on Land Use and the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises followed Rodriguez’s lead to vote 15-0 in opposition to the rezoning. Council members traditionally have first pass on developments in their district, and other members defer to the decision of the official from the affected district.

Community activists from an array of local groups in the room cheered the committee’s decision.

Donovan Richards Jr., chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, offered a thinly veiled rebuke of Rodriguez’s position. “It’s very easy to say no, it’s harder to build consensus on land-use issues,” he said.

“The committee has heard countless difficult and controversial applications,” Committee on Land Use chair David Greenfield added. “Our city’s challenge is not if, but how, we grow.Despite the enthusiasm from the chairs [assembled citizens], today is not a happy day.”

Mayor de Blasio, too, chided opponents of Sherman Plaza after the vote. At a Bronx press conference the next day, he lamented that the development could move forward with fewer units and no affordable housing. “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face,” De Blasio told MIH supporters in the council— including Rodriguez—who oppose MIH developments in their neighborhood.

The developers were predictably unhappy. Washington Square Partners issued the following statement post-vote:

“We are disappointed with the decision not to vote in favor of our application to rezone Sherman Plaza but want to thank Community Board 12, Borough President Brewer, the City Planning Commission and the Mayor for working with us over the last two years in support of the project. The project was an opportunity to develop 175 affordable apartments and we are disappointed the local council member did not agree with us.”

A spokesperson for the developer said her client was “surprised by how much attention” Sherman Plaza received, but noted that next steps for the project are under wraps. WNYC reported that Washington Square Partners may move forward with a plan that includes no affordable housing.

Inwood resident and architect Suzanna Malitz applauded the committee’s decision. While Malitz and fellow members of Uptown for Bernie in attendance opposed Sherman Plaza, she supports contextual development east of 10th Avenue along an industrial strip that fronts the Harlem River. There’s “plenty of space” there for denser developments that include affordable housing, she explained.

Rezoning this area is a top priority of the Inwood NYC Neighborhood Plan, a coalition of city agencies, nonprofits, and community groups working through the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to envision the neighborhood’s future growth, with an eye towards developing the largely industrial areas east of 10th Avenue. Although the plan’s study area extends north from Dyckman Street and doesn’t include Sherman Plaza, if realized, its key provisions will most likely affect surrounding areas, the Bronx included.

New York–based Studio V collaborated with NYCEDC to make the vision more tangible. “Inwood is extraordinary. It has unique conditions—the grid shifts between the east and west sides, it’s bounded by two rivers, and has old growth forests in Inwood Hill Park. There’s a huge opportunity to develop the waterfront along the Harlem River and Sherman Creek, so the area goes from being an edge to being a center,” said Jay Valgora, Studio V’s founding principal. The firm’s renderings show an array of towers that could be developed on both banks of the Harlem River if the east side is upzoned. The east side can support greater density without cutting into the neighborhood’s beloved deco fabric, Valgora explained. 

Cheramie Mondesire attended NYCEDC-led meeting but was dissatisfied with the proceedings. At the second meeting she attended “it was all scripted. They couldn’t answer questions that were not on the script.” The Metropolitan Council on Housing was there to organize residents, and Mondersire, who has lived in the neighborhood for 42 years, attended their meetings to learn how MIH could be applied in Inwood. She agreed that the area east of 10th Avenue would be better suited for dense development than the middle of the neighborhood’s fabric.

Pat Courtney of Inwood Preservation added that the transportation infrastructure is not equipped to serve an influx of new residents, especially with a lack of local bus routes. “Thecommunity is beautiful, well-coordinated, and well-planned. New development should be scaled to existing buildings.”

State assemblymember Guillermo Linares opposed Sherman Plaza, noting that developments like these accelerate the process of gentrification. “You see what happened in lower Manhattan and Williamsburg. In my district, there’s a high concentration of low and middle-income families who cannot afford the housing that’s being built.” Linares cited Sherman Creek as a potential area for “100 percent affordable housing” that includes ground floor retail to enliven the streetscape.

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In quest for street success, Detroit invites architects and planners to tear down zoning red tape

The City of Detroit has opened its zoning rules to public critique in a quest to remove barriers to developing vibrant commercial districts. This week, the city launched Pink Zoning Detroit, a call to action for architects, landscape architects, policy analysts, planners, and preservationists to test the city's zoning and land use codes for red tape–laden areas that hinder development in commercial zones. The reforms are aimed at stakeholders like small business owners, for example, who find it taxing to navigate cumbersome city bureaucracy for approvals and correct permits. Over the course of six months, three interdisciplinary groups will generate ideas for mixed-use commercial corridors around the city. Those ideas will be tested against Detroit's zoning laws to find obstacles and help city agencies make reforms that facilitate better commercial space. The teams' research, design, and analysis will culminate in a series of recommendations next spring, and pilot "pinks zones" to test the modified regulations could be pinpointed by summer 2017. The project is funded by a $75,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Detroit Free Press reports. Along with the just-launched initiative to creatively re-use vacant lots, Pink Zoning Detroit hopes to be a model for other cities looking to reform staid land use rules that can impede development. “For us, it’s just kind of crazy that the urban life that we want is actually inhibited or stymied by the very rules that are supposed to enable them to happen,” Maurice Cox, director of the city’s Planning and Development Department, told the paper. “We turn this upside down and say: ‘Let’s visualize the reality of this urban life that we want. Let’s look at where our current regulations don’t allow it and let’s just change the rules.’ This process will get us that.” Cox cited the city's West Village neighborhood as a real-world ideal: Agnes Street, its commercial spine, is an inviting allée graced by restaurants, shops, and bike parking. Other pink zoning targets are two block chunks of West and East Warren avenues, and a vacant lot at the intersection of Gratiot Avenue and the Dequindre Cut. Applications for teams are open now through September 16. Prospective applicants may apply here.
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City analyzing two plans that would curb an explosion of skyscrapers on the LES

Residents of Two Bridges have come up with two plans to slow and manage development in their Lower East Side Neighborhood. Development in the neighborhood has boomed in recent months. In April, JDS Development Group revealed plans for a SHoP-designed 77-story tower, while L+M Development and the CIM Group (Two Bridges Associates) are planning a residential complex nearby. Starrett Corporation may build a 60-story tower on an East River parcel it owns, while Extell Development's One Manhattan West, an 80-story luxury condo, is expected to be complete in 2019. In light of this unprecedented high-rise explosion, residents and the pols that represent them have advanced two proposals that address the development in their neighborhood. One plan, initiated by the Chinatown Working Group proposes a neighborhood rezoning to cap building heights at 350 feet. It would require residential buildings to offer below-market-rate housing (possibly through MIH). The plan would also mandate harassment certification from potential developers, DNAinfo reports.
“We want rezoning, even though it may be a one-and-a-half to two-year process,” said Trever Holland, president of the Two Bridges Tower Tenant Association told The Lo-Down, which first reported the story. ”We need to look forward—we can’t just say even though the zoning plan may take a while to implement, we’re not going to pursue that.” Elected officials, spearheaded by Councilwoman Margaret Chin, delivered a plan in letter form to the Department of City Planning that suggests skyscrapers planned for the waterfront should not be built as-of-right but should be viewed as “major modifications," not "minor modifications." This distinction would trigger a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process, the months-long back-and-forth between larger stakeholder groups that include the community board, Borough Board, Mayor de Blasio, and the City Council. Chin argues that all four development sites should be considered together for these changes to occur. Residents are concerned that the neighborhood's existing infrastructure cannot adequately accommodate an influx of new residents. Moreover, the neighborhood's character could change if more high-rises are built. State Assemblywoman Alice Cancel is calling an emergency meeting of constituents to come up with a plan to stop the developments.
The Chinatown Working Group's plans are being workshopped by the Department of City Planning; the department concluded the plan was too broad and unfocused and is now reviewing three sections of the plan, although there's not community consensus on this approach. The plan as it's being revised by DCP emphasizes a rezoning that would encourage the development of more affordable housing via MIH, which is tied to the development of market-rate units.
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AIA New York releases Zoning@100 to celebrate the centennial of the zoning code

Summer 2016 marks the 100-year anniversary of the passage of the nation's first comprehensive zoning law, and the AIA New York Planning & Urban Design Committee is commemorating the occasion with a series of essays that look at the impact of the zoning on architectural practice. On July 25, 1916 New York City approved zoning rules that govern the height, shape, size and distribution of buildings in the city, a move that shaped the city's morphology and inspired other cities to pass their own zoning laws. The Planning & Urban Design Committee asked 20 government officials and practitioners to share their thoughts on how zoning affects the city and architects' practice; the last 100 years of zoning's influence on New York; and what the next 100 years of zoning should look like. Contributors include Robert A.M. Stern; Carl Weisbrod, chair of the New York City Planning Commission; Gina Pollara, president of the Municipal Art Society; Jeffrey Shumaker, chief urban designer at the NYC Department of City Planning; and Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of the Partnership for Architecture & Urbanism. To compliment online collection of essays, the committee has planned a series of events to commemorate this historic anniversary. The full list of programming and the essays can be found here.
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New York State Senate and Assembly bill calls for removal of residential FAR cap

One of the biggest changes in decades to New York City’s zoning may be coming. The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) sent out a memo and statement regarding Senate Bill 5469 and Assembly Bill 7807 which would change the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for the city of New York. The city’s current residential FAR cap, set at 12, has not changed since 1961. This bill looks to eliminate the cap by amending the Multiple Dwelling Law. If the FAR cap is removed, many of New York City’s high-density residential neighborhoods could experience added levels of density. MAS has expressed its disapproval of this bill, fearing that its passing would “overburden the city’s stressed infrastructure network and crowd out light and air for neighboring properties and public spaces.” A spokesperson from sponsoring State Senator Simcha Felder has stated that the bill will be voted on tomorrow. MAS has noted that the bill has been “rushed” through the State Legislator and believe it to be at the request of the Mayor. The spokesperson mentioned that Felder sponsored the bill on behalf of the city. Another concern of MAS is that the bill’s passing could “lead to the preference for residential development in mixed use districts, as residential use commands a much higher price per square foot, compared to other uses.” Additional concerns are that the property owners could look to increase past 12 FAR, following approval of the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). The process to receive that approval “does not require the same level of public review” as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Ultimately, MAS and other critics of Senate Bill 5469 and Assembly Bill 7807 fear that there is not an adequate understanding of the effects of this bill if it were to pass.
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In a surprise move, NYC Planning nixes Flushing West rezoning

The rezoning of Flushing West, Queens was supposed to be a royal flush. City officials envisioned dealing a great hand for the neighborhood, a win-win for economic development and affordable housing. Residents, though, believed the plan, which would diversify the neighborhood's composition and increase density, was a crapshoot.

In a surprise move, the city has scuttled a proposed rezoning of 11 mostly industrial blocks between the last stop on the 7 train and Flushing Creek.

City Councilman Peter Koo sent a letter to the Department of City Planning that framed his constituents' objections to the plan, which would allow for the development of retail, open space, and affordable housing (See AN's coverage of the proposed rezoning here). Koo expressed concern that the area's infrastructure wasn't equipped to handle an influx of new residents. The to-be-rezoned parcels, he argued, are in the flight path of planes at nearby LaGuardia Airport, limiting the developments' maximum heights. (The paths could be re-routed, but that would require federal intervention.) The city's plans, moreover, did not address the other side of flushing: Heavy combined sewage outflow into Flushing Creek would make any waterside park very, uh, fragrant, and potentially pose a health hazard to visitors.

The same day, Carl Weisbrod, the chair of the City Planning Commission, wrote back, saying he shared Koo's concerns and would withdraw the plan, Crain's New York reports. The rezoning was intended to be one of 15 neighborhood rezonings that would spur the creation of affordable housing in exchange for denser development—in this case, up to 1,600 new affordable and market-rate units. Weisbrod did note that the city could revisit the proposal, if the problems Koo and the city recognized are addressed.

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DDG uses a four-foot-wide lot to build (too) tall, enraging residents on Manhattan’s Upper East Side

Do you know the one weird trick that lets developers build tall buildings where they're not supposed to? It's not stilts, DJ booths, or mechanical floors this time. DDG Partners got city approval in 2014 to take a regular, 30-foot-deep lot and slice off a four-foot-wide chunk, then used that buffer to avoid zoning regulations that govern the height and setback of buildings on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The developers are building a 32-story, 521-foot-tall luxury tower whose address is the tiny lot on 88th Street, but whose entrance is on adjacent Third Avenue. The tower is 60 feet taller than those typically allowed in the neighborhood, The New York Times reports. “There’s lots of little lots in Manhattan, some that are five square feet, but they’re relics, or they provide access. This is novel; this is new; this is a very aggressive strategy," planning expert George M. Janes explained to the New York Times. Carnegie Hill Neighbors, a local residents' group that opposes the tower, hired Janes to conduct a site analysis. Janes noted that the developers may be trying to avoid building a larger base for the tower, which would be needed if the lot abutted 88th Street. With the zoning circumvented, the square footage for the base can instead be used to boost the tower's height. Permits were issued in March, and DDG is banking on the tower's height as a major selling point. Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the neighborhood, sent the Buildings Department a letter last week requesting a stop-work order, noting that the building sets a precedent for exploiting "a new and dangerous loophole.” In light of this project, the department is reviewing its earlier rulings. It's worth noting the the developers contributed nearly $20,000 to de Blasio's Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit that supports the mayor's social initiatives. DDG declined to comment on the donations, but did say in a statement that they “have and will continue to support public officials with a positive economic development platform that allows New York City to remain a beacon and attraction for the rest of the world.”

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Chicago Mayor proposes to leverage downtown development for neighborhood improvements

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed an initiative aimed at driving neighborhood development by leveraging downtown development with Neighborhood Opportunity Bonuses. These bonuses would exchange added square footage for funds that would be invested in business development in struggling neighborhoods. The proposal would reform the current Zoning Bonus Ordinance, which enables additional square footage in downtown development in exchange for public amenities such as public plazas, water features, sidewalk improvements, and affordable housing units. The mayor’s proposal hopes to update the current system by “eliminating outdated bonuses, closing loopholes and establishing a new funding source for economic development projects in underserved neighborhoods.” The mayor’s office claims the updated ordinance could produce tens of millions of dollars over the next several years. Neighborhoods named in the mayor’s announcement as examples that could benefit from the initiative include Greater Englewood, Auburn Gresham, and Garfield Park. Examples given of what the funds could be used for include “reviving a commercial retail corridor or bringing a new grocery store to a food desert.” “The new system would directly extend the benefits of a strong downtown to neighborhoods with unrealized potential,” David L. Reifman, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development said in the initiative's press release. Mayor Emanuel announced the initiative at the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA) to an audience of neighborhood advocates, developers, and architects. “One developer’s density bonus will not become another struggling neighborhoods economic opportunity, he said. “The whole goal is not to pit one part of our city against another, but to see those that are seeking density bonuses, and want to build taller, we’ll work with you. But means with that opportunity there are funds we are going to see, so when a neighborhood gets housing, there will be a grocery store. When another developer wants to build a hotel, apartment buildings, or condos, or an office building, that becomes in that neighborhood an opportunity for retail portion that have not seen.” As with how current zoning bonuses function in the city, projects will work through their aldermen and the city council for approval. The funds will be distributed through “an open process for development proposals,” with will work with residents and stakeholders. The allocated money will be outlined, with information of supported projects, in a public report provided annually to the City Council. The proposed initiative will be reviewed for approval by the City Council in the spring.
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Boomtown: Houston poised to overtake Chicago as country’s third-largest city by 2025

The Texas metropolis of Houston is famous (or perhaps infamous) for its sprawling footprint. But as recent census numbers affirm, that growth reflects more than just a lack of zoning—within 10 years, more people will live in Houston than Chicago, according to information from health departments in Illinois and Texas. (Read AN's feature examining Houston's first General Plan here.) Long the country's third-largest city, Chicago is projected to have just 2.5 million people by 2025. Houston is expected to surpass that number, possibly growing to 2.7 million residents. A June study by Houston's Rice University found “if both cities maintain their average growth rates of the last four years, Houston would surpass Chicago as the country's third most populous by 2030.” Previous data from the 2000 and 2010 censuses had forecast a similar changing of the guard, noting Chicago had lost 200,000 people in the millennium's first decade, while Houston gained nearly 119,000. But new data publicized by Business Insider suggests the Texas metropolis could overtake the Windy City sooner. Houston leads the nation in job growth, owing largely to its expanding population.